Kelly led Temple down the corridor, an arm round her waist. Poor kid must have been traumatized, finding out her boyfriend and mentor was a traitor, and would have had no compunctions about cutting her down in cold blood. She shivered next to him, and he patted her shoulder comfortingly. "There, there."
They were nearly at the end of the corridor before he realized Scotty wasn't following.
He's probably doing cleanup in there, he reasoned. Besides, he doesn't like it when you fuss. And you have an innocent to take care of.
Still, he lingered, and Temple, bless her, picked up on it. "I think… Do you think you should go check on Scotty?" she asked in a hesitant, high-pitched voice.
"He's all right," Kelly said easily, ignoring the twinge in his gut. Wouldn't do to make Scotty look weak in front of the girl, after all.
"I think… I think perhaps you oughta," she said hesitantly. "They hurt him bad, earlier. Nick was real mad that he wouldn't tell them any secrets, and the doctor nearly killed him with those drugs."
Kelly's heart slammed against his chest. "Doctor?" he asked, turning to face her. "What doctor?"
Temple's eyes were wide with that innocent wisdom of hers. "Nick said he'd been trying to make him talk for two days, since he captured him yesterday. He got a Spanish doctor to inject him with truth drugs, lots of them. But he held out..."
Kelly's heart was thundering now, and he turned to Temple, staring. "Go on," he forced out.
"Nick – Nick told me Scotty said—said they'd have to kill him before he'd tell them anything…"
Her voice faltered, and he wanted to shake the words out of her, clenching his fists with the effort not to. "Mmhmm," Kelly encouraged her, managing a jerky nod.
"And then they… Oh, Kelly, they beat him, and he was so weak from the drugs and still he escaped, and… I think he was pretending he wasn't hurt so we wouldn't feel bad for him. But…"
"Can you make it back to your room, Temple?" Kelly asked urgently.
"Go to him," she said. "I'll be upstairs, packing. You can come up when you're…"
But he was already at the end of the corridor.
Scotty was still sitting on the bed, and now he knew to look for it, Kelly could see the hunched, exhausted posture, the weariness that came of a certain type of resistance. This wouldn't be easy; he didn't want the man to close up, and he didn't want to make it worse for Scotty, either. But he'd been through this particular wringer before, and knew that it was no fun. No fun at all.
Kelly ambled in and sat down next to Scotty, affecting nonchalance. "Temple says you had quite the party without me."
"Girl's got a big mouth."
"She's going to be a history teacher, you know that?"
"Figures." Now he was listening, he could hear the unsteady note in Scotty's usual calm baritone. "She was astonished, astonished, man, that traitors existed outside the history books." The flippant tone cracked a little.
"Is that a fact."
"So what did our friend Nick want to know?" Kelly kept his tone light and conversational, hoping to shift all this onto the plane of the casual.
It backfired; he could almost see the steel shutters slide down. Scotty's voice was angry. "Didn't tell him, what makes you think I'll tell you?"
Kelly frowned. What on earth…? "Last I looked, I wasn't the enemy."
"Still not tellin' you."
"I asked for the questions, not the answers."
"Well, some questions are private."
Private? What could Nick possibly have asked that qualified as…
Oh, damn. The answer leapt to Kelly's mind fully formed, in a sickening lurch of realization. "He wanted to know if I was an agent, didn't he."
Scotty didn't answer, but as the silence stretched out, he didn't need to. It hadn't really been a question, anyway.
Kelly felt his teeth grind, and unclenched his jaw with an effort. "What did they do to you?"
Scotty tried to rise, but his shaking legs wouldn't support him, and Kelly's ire rose. "What – the hell – did they put you through while you were on your misguided crusade to protect me?"
"I wasn't trying to protect you! You know the rules! You don't give up information, any information!"
"Wrongo, Clyde, you don't give up any critical information! Minor details you can divulge for self-preservation!" Kelly growled. "I don't know the page number, Jack, but I can tell you right now that the manual would have told you to give me up before you got killed and let me take my fucking chances!"
"Maybe I didn't want you to take your chances!"
"Maybe it should have been my decision!"
"Maybe I didn't want to give that buzzard the satisfaction!"
"What-did-he-do to you!"
"Nothing!" Scotty snapped. "He pumped me full of some drugs that didn't do nothin'!"
"Nothing? Temple said you nearly died!"
"Gal's got a big mouth! Just because—"
"The fact remains that I was right on top of you in the God-damned hotel, making long-distance calls to Rome like a Goddamn patsy, and you could have given him my name and we coulda got out of that mess together! Saved you a day and a half of—"
"What if he'd decided to just put a bullet through your fool—"
"You think I find it just neat-o knowing he nearly killed you? Drugged you, beat you up, who knows what else, you still haven't told me what he did to—"
"You know what, I've had a hard day," Scotty snapped loudly, cutting Kelly off, "and I don't need any more of this." He clapped his hands to his knees and stood resolutely, only his knees buckled. Kelly leapt to his feet, catching him about the waist before he could fall.
"Sorry," Kelly said to the man slumped in his arms, bowed head resting on Kelly's chest. The dark hands were trembling as they gripped his sleeves for support, Scotty's breathing fast and shallow as he tried to steady himself. "Sorry. Just let me…" He trailed off. Just let me help. You don't have a corner on protecting your partner, man. C'mon. Lean on me. Give me some of it. Don't shut me out, Fred C, please.
But Scotty looked up, his face set and insincere. "Don't sweat it. I'm all right, Jack, I'm just fine."
Kelly looked into the falsely cheerful eyes, Scotty's shaking hands burning holes in his sleeves. The spy game was all about accepting lies, living lies. And as lies went, this wasn't even a big one; would even become the truth, after a while… "Sure, man, sure. Whatever you say."
"Yeah, don't make a big deal out of nothin'…"
Scotty let go of Kelly slowly, tentatively, and Kelly couldn't help his hands hovering to catch his partner if he fell. Scotty wavered a bit on his feet, but held steady. Kelly couldn't help blurting, "Tell me where it hurts, man."
"I'm all right." Scotty's voice was firm. "I'm not hurtin'. They didn't do nothin' to me, scout's honor. Just the shots."
"If you say so." Kelly knew what he wanted to do: he wanted to whisk his filthy, bleeding partner out of this miserable cellar, strip him of every stitch of clothing, examine every inch of him and check for himself that he was telling the truth, and treat his wounds if he wasn't, and then he wanted to reassure his partner, and care for him in any way he'd let him, and listen to him making comic insults about the men who'd done this to him, as Scotty had done for him so many times, to lift the mental distress of the interrogation. The antidote for helplessness in the power of enemies who wanted to hurt you, Kelly knew from bitter experience, was kindness from someone who would die rather than let anyone harm a hair on your head. Someone like his partner, the idiot, who'd suffered for two days in this hellhole out of misguided loyalty rather than tell them that Kelly was an agent…
"Peachy." But Scotty was already straightening, the mask firmly in place, and Kelly knew that he would not be allowed to care for Scotty as his partner cared for him. Whatever pain lurked behind that smooth façade, he was not invited to help heal it; Scotty would deal with it alone. "So you gonna spend the night here, or what?"
"Ah, no," Kelly reached for the quip, finding it with an effort, "I was waiting for you to terminate your research on Damp Cellars of the Spanish Isles."
Scotty started for the door, ahead of him. "I believe our research here is concluded."
"Certainly it is." The familiar resentment flashed as Kelly watched Scotty take his first unsteady steps out of the cellar, having to hang back so as not to appear about to catch him if he fell. Just have further to jump to prevent him cracking his fool head open if he does fall. What is it about accepting help, Jack? Is it something about me personally, or is it a point of honor, or you just gotta protect everyone around you, or what?
"I shall lead on, then."
"Certainly you will." He'd never managed to fathom his partner's reasons, but he knew he'd play it the way Scotty wanted, like always.
After all, it was all he could do.